Marietta still has independent practitioners

What does corporate ownership look like in veterinary medicine?

In corporate veterinary medicine the decisions are taken out of the hands of the veterinarian. Here’s a classic example: it’s decided in Arizona, that every practice in the corporation is going to run a urinalysis on every dog that comes in sick. Is that bad medicine? No it is not. In fact, 10% of the time it’s an appropriate test. The other 90% of the time it’s just contributing to the bottom line, and the customer doesn’t know any better. Would the veterinarian do that? Probably not, because prior to 1960 they would have a personal and professional reputation that they would not tarnish with unnecessary tests.

I will write a third article that describes another 15 ways that corporate veterinary medicine costs the customer time and money, but for this article I will only include one more:

Let’s say that your dog has a disorder and you take him to the vet. And let’s say that that disease or illness has five different rule outs.

That means, five different possibilities for what it is.

In private practice, The veterinarian can use their experience and certain aspects of the physical exam in the presence or absence of a particular symptom to “decide“ that one or more of the five possibilities is not present in this case. The independent veterinarian can choose to pursue one or two diagnoses.

In many corporate practices, the legal department mandates let the veterinarian rule out every single possibility. There are legal, and financial reasons for that policy. What does that translate into real dollars?

In a specialty practice, the diagnosis of some sort of bone cancer or bone marrow cancer might cost as much as $6000. And that would be very high. In corporate practice that diagnosis would necessarily cost $21,000. There are no clients that could pay that, and in my opinion too many animals are put to sleep in corporate practices because the veterinarian, and the customer are Basically obligated to a ‘financial albatross’ of a work up without wiggle room to allow things like hunches, best guess,Therapeutic diagnoses, and other wonderful options and luxuries available to independent practitioners.   


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Author: Dr. Erik Johnson
Dr. Erik Johnson is the author of several texts on companion animal and fish health. Johnson Veterinary Services has been operating in Marietta, GA since 1996. Dr Johnson graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. Dr Johnson has lived in Marietta Georgia since 1976.